A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Social Cues and Reading Peoples’ Faces

In Accommodations for Deaf, Aging and hearing loss, audiogram, Audiologists, captions, Deafness, Hard of hearing culture, Hearing aids, Hearing Loss, Life, Lip Reading on February 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm

I have a colleague at work who has a hearing loss.  He’s had it for so long and though he’s discussed it with me (because he knows I have a hearing loss as well), he still refuses to look at hearing aids.

I’m concerned because of what I am seeing around us. My colleagues react to him by basically laughing behind his back. I cannot help but wonder, if people say the same things about me.  I do wear a hearing aid but there are definitely times I KNOW I am missing out on parts of conversations.  Sometimes I can catch that I am missing something by people’s expressions and I am certain, there are times where I am totally unaware and look duh!  But on the whole, I’m pretty good at reading people.

My colleague definitely does not know what he’s missing out on or when he’s missing out on pieces of conversations and therefore, he looks as though he’s not processing what’s being said.  I don’t like people using the phrase dumb but because he’s pretending to hear and not responding appropriately or not responding at all, people see him as dumb.  They don’t see him as “not getting it” and he’s not hearing what’s being said.  They just think he’s not a smart person.  And because he doesn’t ask them to rephrase or repeat, they don’t see it as a hearing loss problem.  Actually, the more I think about it, he has not told people he has a hearing problem, which is another problem. But I have told people he has a hearing problem.

Yea, Yea, I know, I had no right to tell people.  There’s just no way I can tolerate hearing what people are saying about him and thats why I told them. However, hearing people will be hearing people and not understand the full picture about hearing loss.

So this takes us back to hearing people totally not understanding what we go through. It’s easier for them to interpret our behavior or lack of reaction as our being clueless and dumb than to say hey, wait a minute, this person is not hearing what we’re saying.  It’s not that they are not listening, they are not hearing.

Whenever I see the parents of the children we evaluate, I always ask parents, has your child had a hearing test and a vision test.  The answer is almost always 9 out of 10 times, yes, my child has had a vision test.  Hearing appears to be one of those “things” that parents feel, because their child can hear at home, that they must have normal hearing.  However, I really do believe, the majority of parents do not give hearing much thought.

Getting back to my colleague.  I’ve tried speaking to him about hearing aids, about being more assertive when he cannot hear but he insists he hears most things and is not missing out on anything.  There’s also a very macho attitude as he’s mideastern.  I have found that many mideastern men view hearing loss as a loss of their manhood and refuse to admit they have a hearing impairment.  This person told me, he will pray to his god to restore his hearing.

Well, I hope while he’s praying, he prays that he can learn to read people better because if he doesn’t start learning more social cues and reading peoples faces, hearing people are not going to give him an iota of understanding.

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  1. Yeah– I was one of those kids who never had a hearing test, and skipped school a lot because I couldn’t hear my teachers or understand what was going on in the class room.

    When I was nineteen I finally found out I had hearing loss. After years of negative school experiences I had low self-esteem and didn’t apply myself in college. I didn’t know what to do about hearing loss. This was pre-ADA days. Even if I could have asked for access, I wouldn’t have known what to request. It wasn’t until my late 30s during some college career counseling that I learned my IQ.

    Now I have a job that I like, but not working to my potential. Equal Opportunity in the work place is still non-existent. Deaf people are notoriously under employed. I feel fortunate to have a job with benefits and pray I can hold on to it until I retire. Everyone knows I can’t hear well. I often feel I’m walking a tight rope in the office. I have to remind them over and over I can’t hear because they forget, but talking about it too often only serves to underscore my disability rather than how capable I am. I am sure I miss things too, and that people laugh behind my back. How can you respond to something you don’t hear?

    Lately, I have been considering starting up a non-profit.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by DeafRead, Deaf Village. Deaf Village said: Social Cues and Reading Peoples’ Faces: I have a colleague at work who has a hearing loss.  He’s had it for so l… http://bit.ly/ePzNKK […]

  3. Like Kim. I am grateful I have a job too, even though I’m fed up at times with it, but its only part time of 20 hours a week. I have tried for over 3 years looking for work with more hours. But gave up as I felt my disability with the 2 out of the 3 interviews I had in that time, that I was skilled for, my deafness went against me. Even though it shouldn’t have and I educated them on that when they asked for, because of a telephone at the time, I needed. If they wanted me to do in addittion to what I was applying for.

    I now look at what I can do in my spare time, as a bonus now. And thats blogging, a home study course. Looking up the latest deaf issues, and very recent, setting up a website for my local area, where I hope I will end up meeting other deaf people like me.

  4. I don’t think your colleagues are laughing behind your back as you have pointed out a major difference between you and your hard of hearing colleague: You KNOW when you are missing out on parts of conversations. Your hard of hearing colleague doesn’t KNOW when he’s missing out. What a double whammy to be a man and MidEastern with a hearing impairment. I’m sure that’s hard.

    But you are in a good position to educate him as he has already admitted to you of his hearing loss. Do your colleagues treat you differently because they are aware of your hearing loss? How do hearing aids help YOU? Is is aware of ADA? He may be in jeopardy of losing his job because he didn’t hear/understand something. It can, because it happened to me.

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